Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Looking back to the high energy, fun-seeking days of my youth, I realize that I, like most American teens, once possessed a high propensity to engage in risky behavior. In my younger days, I felt seeking what we then called carefree "kicks" was perfectly natural and 100% safe. This unconstrained, bulletproof attitude even served to build my "rep" and bolster the "tuff" image that spurred my popularity.
Seeking novel experiences, I yearned for adventures that would bring me ever closer to crossing lines of safety and reason. Venturing into uncharted territories, I tested the limits of my ever-expanding freedom and blindly trusted luck during my many risky excursions. I found rushes of excitation to be irresistible. After all, cool people "did things" while the squares just thought about "doing them."
This is not to say that I didn't calculate my movements and consider the consequences of my behavior. My conscience always begged me to exercise constraint, but I had a brain full of morals and values and a body full of adrenaline and testosterone. Needless to say, I made more than my share of bad decisions that resulted in disasters. Now, I consider myself very lucky to have survived the falls of youth with minimal permanent damage.
Why did I ever flirt with dangers that might have taken the ultimate toll? I've thought about this, and I've come up with some answers.
When I was young, I was...
1. Easily bored,
2. Overly curious,
3. Significantly insecure,
4. Subject to peer pressure,
6. Longing to prove maturity,
7. Prone to seek attention,
8. Easily impressionable,
9. Drawn toward rebellion,
10. Blind to reality.
Now that I'm an old geezer -- the one with the permanently flashing turn signal driving 45 MPH on the freeway -- I've learned that a slower, more deliberate lifestyle will likely buy me some more precious time. I know now that thinking I'm cool by doing things that can potentially damage my health and the health of others is stupid and selfish.
I still like to have fun; however, I understand that I can be very happy by eliminating risks and walking the line.
In fact, I admire most those who find joy in the good, small things life has to offer. I see that adventurous complications often draw me away from my best interests.
And, I understand that the best peers are those who do not pressure me, but, who, instead, take me for the person I am (with all of my hangups and faults). These friends stand the tests of trials and time.
Most of all, I have learned to hate -- to hate all of those excesses that have robbed me of good friendships formed in my youth:
the speeding car;
the ever-flowing alcohol;
the cancerous drug addiction;
the violent, spur-of-the-moment emotion;
the life-choking cigarette,
the unrelenting mental illness.
Gone is my high propensity to engage in risky behaviors. I see these thoughtless actions end the lives of too many much too soon.